Cornell: We Showed a Different Side
Wednesday, 2nd Dec 2020 15:37
Blues keeper Dai Cornell felt Town showed a different side to their game during Tuesday’s 0-0 draw at Oxford.
Cornell kept his first league clean sheet for Town having come into the team for Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Charlton having previously featured in the cups.
“I think we showed a different side of what we have been doing,” he said afterwards. “Sure that we can pass it nicely along the back and through the midfield but tonight was a bit more of an aggressive, bodies-on-the-line kind of defensive game.
“So in the end I think it was a good point and a good clean sheet and we move on to Saturday.”
He added: “If we can set up and keep as many clean sheets as possible, it’s a great start. If we know we’re going to be solid going into games, it’s obviously a lot better.
“Fingers crossed, we can keep that mentality of being solid and being strong and carry on going.”
Reflecting on his first league clean sheet for the Blues, he added: “I’d prefer to win the game, even if it was 2-1. But obviously it’s great for me to keep a clean sheet, but one does nothing.
“Fingers crossed now we can keep a lot more and we can keep climbing up that table and be where we want to be.”
Although chances were rare at both ends, the Welshman made a couple of vital saves in the first half.
“That’s my job, to stop the ball going in the net,” he continued. “I’ll do what I can, put my body on the line when I need to.
“I was happy-ish with my performance tonight. Fingers crossed I can get better as games go on, both with the ball and without the ball, so it was positive.”
Having joined Town in the summer after leaving Northampton, Cornell had to wait a little while before breaking into the league line-up.
“I’ve been working hard to try and force myself in,” he said. “Tommy’s [Tomas Holy] done well but obviously there were a couple of results which didn’t go our way and we looked to change something and fingers crossed I can now change it back.
“I think it was Friday morning I learnt I was in the team as we set up to prepare to watch what Charlton were going to do. That wasn’t a switch in focus so much because I focus every week to be playing even if I’m not playing.
“Obviously it’s great, it’s why I came to the club, to work hard, to get in the team and be successful. Fingers crossed now we can build on tonight and carry that on through the rest of the season.”
Did he feel his chance was coming? “To be honest, I was just trying to keep my head into my work and grafting and just doing everything I could on the pitch and off the pitch to get that opportunity.
“Tomas has played well, Tomas has had some good games but the gaffer decided to change it for whatever reason. But that’s not up to me, I just work hard and fingers crossed it reaps rewards.”
He admitted to one or two nerves ahead of the match, which he believes is positive going into a game.
“I think there’s always nerves, which is a good thing,” he said. “Probably not as much as when I was younger because you’re in a bit more control.
“Of course I want the nerves, it’s good to have them, the butterflies before games because it shows you care.”
Regarding Holy’s reaction to being dropped, Cornell said: “I’m really lucky with Tomas because he’s such a nice guy. I’ve supported him when he’s been playing, when he’s done well. We’re open to conversations in terms of goals, in terms of anything like that.
“We get on well and he’s been the same way as I was with him. He’s been supporting me and he’s been working hard. It’s a battle that I’m enjoying.”
Turning back to last night’s match, Cornell was asked whether he felt it was a game Town needed to take something from after the back-to-back home defeats.
“Of course, sometimes I think after two not great results you almost need a battling performance,” he said.
“Sometimes that’s better than bopping them off the park, not scoring and taking a 0-0 because it’s a fight. You come off knowing you’ve been in a game and you know you can do that side of it, which you’re going to need to do, more often than not.”
Manager Paul Lambert attacked negativity he felt was being stoked by the media at his post-match press conference and Cornell was asked whether the players have been impacted by criticism from outside the club.
“I try not to look at it, to be honest with you,” he said. “We have a very positive group. Obviously we all know Chambo is the most positive guy on earth, that helps!
“We remain focused on our goal, take it game by game and whatever’s out there is out there, I don’t think the boys take any notice.
“We’ll carry on grafting and, fingers crossed, come the end of the season we’ll all be happy together.”
Is that the same for the young players? “It’s part and parcel of football, I think. The quicker you adapt to criticism [the better] because it doesn’t matter who you are, what level you play at, or how the game went, you’re still going to get criticised by someone.
“You take on board what you believe is correct and you try and benefit from it and go again.”
While Tuesday’s draw ended the run of two defeats and was a step in the right direction, Cornell knows the Blues need to get back to winning ways sooner rather than later.
“Ideally at Plymouth on Saturday,” he said. “It’ll be a different type of game because they like to move the ball quite well as well.
“We’ll set-up and see how they go and fingers crossed we’ll put in a good performance, showing the side we showed tonight, the battling, but maybe with a bit more ruthlessness up front and hopefully get the three points.”
Tuesday’s game was, hopefully, the last the Blues will play at an empty stadium with Plymouth having been given the go-ahead to have 1,808 fans present at Home Park on Saturday and 2,000 at Portman Road the following week for the visit of Portsmouth.
“I’ve had a few conversations with people asking me what it’s like [now] and it’s hard to explain what it’s going to be like with 2,000 people back in because you’re going to hear every word that’s said,” Cornell reflected.
“It’s going to be interesting, we’re going to have to adapt to the surroundings yet again. But it will be great to be back at home with the fans, at least some of them will be there.
“I’ve been down here however long and not met or not seen any fans whatsoever. It’ll be nice.
“Even for my family coming down, everything’s closed. There’s not a lot going on.
“Meeting the fans, it’s nice to interact with people before games, after games or whatever. It’s going to be weird but it’s a step in the right direction.”
He added: “It’s going to be a funny situation. even if you’re getting tonked, it’s nice to have people back in.
“When you grow up you’re wanting to play at Wembley in front of 90,000 or whatever. I think this is a step in the right direction for everyone, fingers crossed that everything stays safe and we can do it properly.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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